Cubs Asking For Public Funding to Fix Wrigley: Take Two

I think I’ve seen this episode before.  It’s the one where Jack and Chrissy ask a bankrupt Mr. Roper if they can not pay their rent for a few years while they spend the money on renovating their bathroom.  Then Janet and Mrs. Roper overhear part of the plot when Jack tells Larry about the scheme down at the Regal Beagle and hilarity ensues. Or something like that.

We knew it would only be a matter of time before the Cubs went back to the government to get public funding for their Wrigley Field renovation project.  Anyone who thought the Ricketts would settle for either not doing the renovations or paying for it out of their own money after the last disastrous public funding attempt is stupefyingly naive or new to this planet.

Greg Hinz at Crain’s Chicago Business is reporting that Tom Ricketts has been talking with new Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel about various scenarios involving public money and Rahm has at least been keeping an open mind about the possibilities:

Sources close to the matter say that team chief Tom Ricketts in recent weeks has met with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other government officials about a funding scheme that could be put before state lawmakers as soon as the Legislature’s fall veto session.

According to sources, the plan envisions as much as $200 million in public help for a $400-million rebuild of Wrigley, with officials given a menu of potential funding options to get the needed cash.

“Rahm’s people have been much more interested than Daley’s were,” said one inside source, referring to the current mayor and former one, Richard M. Daley, who blocked an earlier plan that would have allowed the team to pocket increased tax receipts from an expanded Wrigley complex.

So this seems like basically the same plot as before, except this time, he’s going to the Mayor instead of Michael Madigan to cook up the new scheme.  That’s fine, but a little free advice to Tommy-boy: You may want to loop the Governor in this time.  He wasn’t so happy when you tried to backdoor him with the schemes last time, remember?

“Apparently, they don’t think I’m as important as some others,” [Governor] Quinn said. “I am important in this matter because I’m goalie for the people of Illinois to make sure they get their top priorities addressed.”

The governor added: “These are private owners of a baseball team. They spent almost $1 billion buying it. They knew what they were buying. To be coming to the people of Illinois for assistance now after an election isn’t a top priority… If they wanted this to happen, they should have talked about it before the election — not after.”

So besides trying a little harder to get his ducks in a row behind the scenes before running off to blab to the season ticket holders about his plan, I don’t see much different from the last time other than that the current Mayor is now not steadfastly against the plan. Hinz insinuates that part of the the reason may be the two mayors’ different team allegiances.

It probably also doesn’t hurt that, unlike Sox fan Mr. Daley, that Mr. Emanuel is a long-time Cubs fan who lives less than a mile from the ballpark.

This has been a rumor I have long heard and it seems to have taken form as a fact. However, I’ve talked to people who have worked with Daley and Daley’s people, and they have always told me that they believe Daley’s problem with the Cubs was never that he was a Sox fan.  His problem with them was that they were owned by the Tribune.  Messing around with the Cubs screwed with the Tribune and that was a more politically acceptable way to get retribution against a paper that wasn’t always kind to him.  Who knows where the truth lies, but I thought it was interesting that Crain’s included that bit.

More importantly, I think we might have a bit of an idea of what Tom Ricketts will be talking about when he addresses the State of the Cubs in the near future.  

Folks who were hoping that it would be Tom Ricketts showing Jim Hendry the door can probably start preparing to be disappointed. Bruce Miles outlines why he believes Hendry isn’t going anywhere, and I tend to agree with him:

All that speculation aside, some things are just not adding up from the perspective that Hendry is not staying, and events of this week further drive that point home for me.

Hendry is the man who supervises baseball operations, and his scouting director, Tim Wilken, just reeled in a haul of draft picks worth about $12 million.

On top of that, Hendry helped to negotiate some, if not all, of the bigger deals to get these kids to sign with the Cubs.

Is Ricketts going to turn around now and say, “Thanks for doing that, Jim. Appreciate you restocking the farm system. Now take a hike”?

I have a difficult time believing Ricketts would do that, and if he did, would he be the kind of boss anybody would want to work for?

So even though the announcement of the announcement was enough to get people hoping, I don’t think we can assume that there will be some sort of major baseball operations shakeup simply because this future statement has been announced.  There are now other things to talk about.  Like squeezing that $200 million out of a city, county or state treasury that has nothing left inthem to squeeze.  It’s sounding more like this will be a statement further slapping themselves on the back for finally approaching a draft like a major league team should and then an update on the Wrigley 2014 plan (or whatever they will call it now). 

Hell, as far as we know, they could spend a whole lot of time talking about the troughs in the bathrooms again.  For some reason the Ricketts are fascinated by the troughs and what people think of them.


(h/t @Desipiodotcom)

So, as we have seen from this organization numerous times recently, we’ll just have to see what happens.



About aisle424

I used to write lots of things about the Cubs. Now I sometimes write things about the Cubs.